After protests in more than twenty Chinese cities that began on November 25 following the Urumqi fire that charred 10 people to death, Beijing has loosened restrictions pertaining to the long-running zero-Covid policies that prohibited people from entering supermarkets and commercial buildings. Local authorities informed that people no longer require a negative Covid test report to enter public places, but they still need to provide test results to enter other venues, including schools, bars, nursing homes, gyms, etc.
Shanghai, China’s biggest metropolis was among the latest to relax Covid restrictions on public places. Similar easing can also be seen in the cities of Wuhan, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Chengdu. Urumqi, the capital of Xianjiang region has opened supermarkets, hotels, cinemas, and gyms to people while Tibet has resumed public transport.
More recently, owing to the unrest situation, Apple accelerated its plan to move out of China and prepared to shift some of its production units to other countries. It also asked its suppliers to plan more assembling of the product elsewhere in Asia, including Vietnam and India. This came after the recent turmoil at China’s Foxconn iPhone manufacturing plant in Zhengzhou, as reported by Reuters.
Despite enough evidence that the tough epidemic protocols hammered economic progress and smashed people’s livelihood, Xi Jinping was firm on his resolute that there would be no swerving from his signature “zero-Covid” policy. But then came extensive acts of public defiance that were sparked by the frustrations over pandemic restrictions but also called for the rulers’ resignation.
Silently, the government abandoned the regressive protocols and dumped the “zero-Covid” goal. Officials are now beginning to change the public narrative on social media saying that the new strains of the virus are not that deadly. The new plan is apparently to slow the spread of the virus. The trajectory seems obvious.
But the recent wave of unprecedented protests in China has still not subsided. Over the last weekend, there have been 68 dissent incidents across 31 cities in China as reported by Nathan Ruser, an OSINT researcher. From Beijing, Wuhan, Hebei and Guangzhou, Chengdu to Shanghai, protests are ongoing across China. Students, residents, and workers are still protesting on the streets to challenge the restrictions that had them cooped up inside their homes longer than needed.
Even though mass protests have subsided, there’s a low-key buzz of defiance that has persisted in local areas specific to communities demanding the “unsealing” of their precinct. Over the next few days, at least 9 new protests in 8 cities of China were tracked by China Protests Monitor.
Tracking Recent Protest Incidents in China
Date: 2022/12/03 Location: Qingpu District, Shanghai
On 3rd December, people clashed with police officials in white uniforms in Qingpu District, Shanghai while protesting against the detention of some people even after they tested negative for Covid.
Date: 2022/12/04 Location: Wuhan
Students gathered near the administrative building of Wuhan University to question authorities on returning homes, and resuming offline classes and exams. Around 100 students engaged in talks with government officials to negotiate and reach a conclusion on strict epidemic containment measures. The crowd slowly dispersed.
Since the pro-democracy crusade of 1989 in Tiananmen Square, China has not witnessed such massive acts of public disobedience. The persistence of resistance in the recent time, among a small yet significant section of Chinese people, perhaps signals that they are now less afraid of challenging the apex leadership. The protests have awoken a tradition of dissent that was farsighted in the last decade under Xi Jinping’s rule.